Collateral Damage –  

Sep. 30, 2020 – The study authors behind the model projected mortality risks based off of behaviors like frequency of injection use and risky practices, like equipment sharing and skin hygiene.

Twenty-year-olds classified as “males” who inject once or more per day and practice risky injection techniques are at the greatest risk of dying from infective endocarditis, facing a more-than 53 percent chance of death by 2030. Those who inject less than once per day, even while practicing risky techniques, face a somewhat lower mortality probability of 44 percent. Decreasing injection frequency also reduces mortal risk for similarly positioned people classified as “females.”

“Until recently, injection-related infections were not as common as HIV, hepatitis C, and overdose. But then fentanyl hit the drug market. And polysubstance injection use became more common. Both of these lead to increased injection frequency,” said Barocas. “That, coupled with an inadequate supply of sterile injection equipment, increases the risk of bacterial infections like endocarditis. We’re seeing more people without access to sterile equipment who are injecting more frequently—a perfect storm for bacterial infections.”

Overdose tends to be seen by the public and politicians as the dire mortal health crisis facing people who inject opioids. As the study authors predict, almost one-third of the subpopulation overall face a 10-year mortality projection from overdose, compared to 20 percent for infective endocarditis.

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